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60th Precinct in Coney Island - flooded by Hurricane Sandy
A police station or precinct is a building designed for the use of police officers and other police personnel to assist in responding to a variety of emergency situations. Police stations occupied by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) are often designed with emergency vehicle bays on the ground floor and offices in the rest of the structure. There are 77 police stations operated by the NYPD. These buildings serve as the 34,500 Uniformed Officers and many other civilian staff members that constitute the NYPD. There are 8 police stations located within the five SIRR flood zones.

Special Resilience Considerations

Police Stations play a vital role in city-wide resilience and emergency planning. They serve as hubs for emergency preparation, a launching point for response teams, and keystone for recovery response after extreme weather events. The police station, therefore, plays a key role in resiliency planning, and must aim to be an example of resilient building design in order to maintain steady operation under extreme situations. NYPD personnel are integral to any disaster response. In their design guidance, FEMA identifies police stations as "critical facilities" (along with firehouses, hospitals, and other emergency service facilities) this means they should be built with extra safeguards to keep them functioning during a disaster. FEMA notes that during Hurricane Katrina, "the disaster was further compounded by the poor performance of critical facilities during and after the storm."[1]

Police garage in Franklin, TN inundated during flash flood.
Flood Events

Generally, police stations are mostly office-type space, but like firehouses, many incorporate garages for emergency vehicles on the lower level of the building, placing offices above. For this reason, some police stations may lend themselves well to wet floodproofing measures because it can be utilized in non-residential spaces composed of masonry construction, such as parking garages. Wet floodproofing design measures, combined with emergency plans that identify all materials and equipment that must be relocated in a flood event, can support the possibility of continuous operation of firehouses during flood events. Dry floodproofing may need to be used alongside the wet floodproofing in stations that also incorporate office space on the lower levels.

High Wind Events
In preparation for high wind events, careful consideration should be given to securing loose materials on the exterior of the building to ensure that they do not become missiles. One example of an exterior architectural element that should be secured for hurricane force wind is rooftop pavers, which may be present in police stations because of their use as a covering for flat roof surfaces. Special care should be taken to anchor any exterior mechanical or service equipment that is a component of communications or building services that are essential to the building's functioning.

Power Outages
Utility systems design should be designed to accommodate power failure events that occur in any weather condition. This is of particular concern to critical facilities such as police stations that serve as communication hubs during such events. Natural gas-powered and/or solar photovoltaic generators should be able to run in island mode and backup reserve power should be able run continuously in order to operate communications and essential building functions. Additional measures can be taken to reduce the need for energy. Day lighting design, airtight construction, and high performance thermal insulation are passive survivability measures that add to the functionality of building services during power failures as well as reduce building energy demand during normal daily operation.

Further Consideration

FEMA provides guidance for critical facilities that should be consulted for a thorough assessment of design considerations applicable to critical facilities such as police stations.[2]


  1. ^

    FEMA "Design Guide for Improving Critical Facility Safety from Flooding and High Winds: Providing Protection to People and Buildings" http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/8811
  2. ^

    Daily News http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/sea-water-surge-behind-serious-sandy-fires-fdny-article-1.1226891